Saturday, 9 August 2008


I went to Melbourne last weekend for a debrief of an inquiry that I have been working on for the past six months. I have to say that I am glad it is over as it has been a hectic six months but unfortunately there’s no light at the end of this tunnel for me as now I will be busy implementing the recommendations for my department. I am however looking forward to the challenges though and it would be actually good to see a project through to its completion.

These are pictures from out of my plane window. I am surprised that they came out okay. Can you see the snow? That is the Mount Kosciusko National Park. Not sure which one is Mount Kosciusko (Australia’s highest mountain) though!
Below is the apartment that I stayed in whilst I was in Melbourne. It was really nice and I would recommend the Quest Service Apartments if you happen to be looking for accommodation in Melbourne. It is located on Lonsdale Street, only one block away from Chinatown and other major attractions. I had wanted to go to the Melbourne Gaol but it was nearly closing by the time I got there (the perils of working 9 to 5). So unfortunately, I could only take a picture of the façade. Ned Kelly, the famous Australian bushranger was executed here on 11 November 1880. To most Australians, he was a folk hero for his defiance against the colonial authorities. It is funny how we Australians revere a robber as our hero! Next to the gaol, is the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). The campus building is the former Magistrate Court and was built in 1913. Both the Melbourne gaol and RMIT building are located on Russell Street. Her Majesty's Theatre is a 1700 seat theatre. Built in 1886, it is located at 219 Exhibition Street, Melbourne. It is classified by the National Trust of Australia and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. Purchased in 2000 by Mike Walsh, the theatre was restored and refitted to accommodate larger productions. As you can see, Billy Elliot is currently showing there.I was also lucky to see some police horses and managed to get a picture. The Victorian Mounted Police Branch operates primarily to provide operational mounted support to the Victoria Police. Horses have been used by police in Victoria since Military Mounted Police rode into the colony in 1836. The establishment of Victoria Police in 1853 brought several mounted units together under the banner of the Mounted Branch. Horse and rider numbers increased in line with Victoria’s population, till they reached a peak in the early 1900s with 211 Mounted Stations throughout the state. The introduction of the motor car replaced the horses at these stations and now the few horses that are around are used predominantly for patrols in the Melbourne city area and for ceremonial duties.
No visit to Melbourne is complete without a trip on the trams. Unfortunately, I was too slow to get a picture of the City Circle old tram that is still being used but I got one off the net anyway. The picture below the burgundy tram is the normal trams that service Melbourne.

The Melbourne City Circle tram is an ideal way for visitors to see Melbourne, and best of all it’s totally free. You can ride the distinctive burgundy coloured City Circle tram between 10am and 6pm everyday, and hop on and off as you wish.
During my second trip, my colleagues and I had about 1.5 hours free time before our next meeting so we decided to have a laze at Flagstaff Gardens. Flagstaff Gardens are Melbourne's oldest gardens. They take their name from a flagstaff erected in 1840 at the settlement's highest point, in order to communicate between the harbour and town. This became known as "Flagstaff Hill". Before this, the area was used as a cemetery and was known as Burial Hill. The gardens were constructed in 1880 after residents of West Melbourne became concerned at the dereliction of Flagstaff Hill and petitioned the Governor to turn the area into public gardens or a recreational area.
The Flagstaff Gardens are a popular lunch-time spot for the city workers (which we quickly discovered). That's not surprising as even in the early times of the settlement they were regarded as a fashionable place, with people going their to picnic and listen to the music of regimental bands, while taking in views of the bay. Interestingly, many more people visit the gardens each day than the more impressive Fitzroy gardens, on the other side of the Melbourne CBD. The Flagstaff Gardens have been classified by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and is listed by the Australian Heritage Commission.
Aren’t the flowers lovely???
Unfortunately I did not have enough time to do much whilst I was in Melbourne. What I did do was work, eat and some grocery shopping. I found fresh quail eggs which I made sambal out of it. The recipe to follow soon. I also finally found ovalette. I have been seeing this in cake recipes and I finally got some. Cannot wait to try it out.

I went over to Ballan and Ballarat (about an hour and a bit away from Melbourne) to visit my rellies and managed to take pics of my old house and meet my neighbours. It was good to catch up as I have not been to see my old house since I left Ballarat 7 years ago (I have seen the rellies though). I took a picture of this burnt house cos it burnt down nearly ten years ago and it is still there in the same condition. And yes, someone is living in it!
Ballarat is a beautiful town and deserves a posting by itself. In summary however, Ballarat is one of the Australia’s largest inland cities. It is well-known for its history and heritage. Gold was discovered near Ballarat in 1851, and the influx of over 10,000 miners in less than a year transformed it from a pastoral town into Victoria's largest city. Ballarat is notable as the site for Australia's only armed civil uprising, colloquially referred to as the Eureka Stockade but more correctly titled the Eureka Rebellion, which took place on 3 December 1854.

While the city's growth slowed after the 1880s and Melbourne quickly overshadowed its importance, Ballarat remains a major inland regional centre and tourist destination, having retained much of its Victorian era heritage and is known for its grand heritage listed buildings and gardens.

Have a look at the beautiful quilts that my niece has made. She won first prize for the Egyptian inspired quilt and she calculated that if she was commissioned to make one, she would need to charge at least $4000. The quilting itself (that’s the sewing/thread designs on the patterns) costs her over $400! Isn’t she a smart cookie? The two days I spent there went too quickly and I was really sad to leave. I definitely have to make a trip back soon. I took the train back to Melbourne to catch my flight back to Canberra. I liked the look of the Ballan train station so here it is. Isn’t it quaint? Could not believe how green the fields look. The last time I was down, it was all scorched. Obviously there has been some rain around. Can you see Melbourne’s sky scrapers on the horizon? And that, brings me to the end of my tale.

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